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RDF: Aurora

What is Aurora?

Aurora (previously known as 'NavCenter') is a UI widget in Mozilla. It also represents an attitude about information management, desktop web integration, and other things that Netscape engineers tend to discuss over beer.

You can read what our product marketing folks have to say about it here.

The Simple Story

Aurora is a simple tree-column widget (actually, the same widget that is used in Messenger) that NGLayout uses to acquire and display data.

The Other Story

The desktop of the future will be an Information Management Shell --- the central place for dealing with information.

If you look around your desktop, there are many sets of "information organization structures" --- collections of taxonomies or webs of information.

Examples include:
  1. Local hard drive file directory structures.
  2. Site Maps or table of contents of web sites.
  3. Taxonomies such as Yahoo! or Open Directory
  4. Search Indices
  6. FTP
  7. History
  8. Mailbox hierarchies
Each of these lives an independent life. They each have their own storage, own viewers and editors ...

There is clearly a lot of wasted effort. It is actually much worse than just wasted effort. Its organization of information based on the protocol used to access it, not based on what its about or where the user wants to put it. This balkanization is at the root of many of our information problems.

Aurora is an attempt at solving some of these problems. In particular, it provides a way of navigating all of the above sources of data. Furthermore it allows you to integrate all of them. E.g., you can create a workspace called Sailing under which you have some local file system folders, portions of Yahoo!, Excite, Open Directory or some live search queries, ... So, its a lot more than simply slapping a common UI over multiple distinct sources of data.

Aurora also makes it very easy to manifest new data sources into Aurora without any changes to the UI code. The UI widget only needs to have the notion of an RDF 'data source'. Everything, right from the structure of the tree, the columns that should be presented, the menu commands for each item, ... comes from the RDF graph. We hope to make all aspects of Aurora both scriptable and declaratively specifiable.

Please do not judge Aurora by what it is today. It is very much work in progress. We hope you will help us make it better.

Last Updated: $Id: aurora.html,v 1.2 1999/03/18 09:07:55 Exp $